All about dragons – A wicked worldwide legend

At Wicked Dragon we’re into our dragons. And we’re not alone. Dragons feature in all sorts of cultures across the world, from the UK through Europe, up into Iceland and across Asia. Chinese art is packed with dragon imagery, as is Japanese culture, and dragons turn up on the Indian continent, into Thailand and beyond. So we thought it’d be fun to take a look at the magic of dragons.

The UK – Where a multitude of dragons sleep

In Devon, where we’re based, we have a dragon of our own. It emerges from its lair every night to soar high above the Exe valley, flying above the clouds from Dolbury Hill to Cadbury Castle. But it isn’t the only one. The nation’s history is studded with tall dragon tales, from the dragon under Wormelowe Barrow in Shropshire, which sits on top of a huge hoard of buried treasure, to the Lambton Worm up in County Durham, a giant beast that terrorised local villages before being killed by local landowner, John Lambton. And the old Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf speaks of a great chieftain slaying a dragon – along with his own mum, nine sea monsters, and a demon.

In old times ‘worm’ and ‘dragon’ were often used to describe the same creature. In the list of dragon legends in the UK, below, you’ll see plenty of place names with ‘worm’ in them, or something similar like ‘wyrm’ or ‘wyvern’. Some claim ‘worm’ is an ancient Germanic word used to describe dragons as well as actual worms. Others say the word ‘dragon’ has origins in ancient French or Latin.

Wales’s red dragon appears on the country’s flag, originating with the legend of King Arthur and the magician Merlin. More of More Hall killed the dragon of Wantley by kicking it on the backside with his special pointy-toed boots. St George, who was probably Turkish, famously killed a dragon at Dragon Hill in Oxfordshire. One particularly well-known dragon spent its life terrorising the people of the Somerset levels at Dunster until Carantoc, a son of the Welsh king, tamed the beast by draping it with his priestly clothing then leading it safely away.

Is there a dragon legend where you live?

You’ll find dragon legends alive and well at Avebury, Bamburgh, Baslow, Betws-y-Coed, Bishop Auckland, Brent Pelham, Bretforton, Brinsop, Bromfield, Bures, Burley, Castle Neroche, Cawthorne, Chipping Norton, Crowcombe, Dartford, Deerhurst, Dinas Emrys, Dunstanburgh, Durham, Gunnerton, Henham, Highclere, Horsham, Hughenden, Hutton Rudby, Kellington, Ker Moor, Killerton, Kilve, Kingston, Lewannick, Linton, Little Cornard, Llandeilo Graban, Llyn Cynwch, London, Longwitton, Ludham, Lyminster, Middlewich, Mordiford, Norton Fitzwarren, Norwich, Nunnington, Oxford, Penmynydd, Penshaw, Renwick, Saffron Walden, St Leonards Forest, Shervage Wood, Slingsby, Sockburn, Strathmartin, Tanfield, Trull, Uffington, Wells, Westbury, Wharncliffe, Wherwell, Wiveliscombe, Wormbridge, Wormhill, Wormingford, and Wormshill.

So where did all these tall tales come from?

Do dragon legends arise from the mysterious bones of dinosaurs, a way to explain what the enormous skeletons poking out of the rocks meant? Were the stories created to frighten children into staying away from dangerous places? Did people once believe volcanoes were created by dragons making fire underground? Did dragons simply reflect humans’ natural fear of snakes, alligators, crocodiles, even the aptly-named Komodo dragon, a giant monitor lizard that lives in Indonesia, grows to 3m long, and can weigh as much as 70kg?

Perhaps it was a way of explaining strange, lumpy geological features like the Orkneys, Shetland and the Faroe Islands, which together look like the humps of a great lizard’s back and in legend make up the remains of the huge sea dragon, the Mester Stoor Worm. Nobody really knows. But these fierce creatures have wormed their way into countless legends over thousands of years to become so familiar you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re real.

Bye bye dinosaurs, hello Wicked Dragon!

66 million years ago the 180 million year reign of the dinosaurs ended with a cataclysmic explosion caused by a ten mile wide meteorite. It left a vast crater off the coast of Mexico, 93 miles across and 12 miles deep, and turned the giant lizards that roamed the earth to dust. The dinosaurs might be long gone, dragons might be the stuff of legend, but humans still love a good dragon story.

It’s interesting to know that dinosaurs weren’t dull-coloured and scaly. They were vividly coloured and many of them had beautiful feathers, not scales. And that’s where we come in, with lush collections of vibrantly-coloured alternative clothing to make you feel good... and look like a legend. Make like a Wicked Dragon, stand out from the crowd, and love your look. Happy shopping!

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